FUNCTION

FUNCTION OF THE BOARD

It is the Refugee Board's responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers in Ghana, as per its mandate. The board also cooperates with other agencies to carry out its mandate. It partners with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other state agencies such as National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to assist refugees and asylum seekers. Functions of the board are outlined in section 5 of the Ghana Refugee Law 1992 (PNDCL 305D), Which states the following.


• Receive and consider applications for refugee status;

• Recognize any person or group of persons as refugees for the purposes of this Law;

• Register and keep a register of persons recognized as refugees under this Law;

• Seek co-operation with non-governmental organizations on matters relating to refugees;

• Assist in seeking employment or education for refugees and members of their families;

• Endeavour to ensure the provision of adequate facilities, advice and services for the reception and care of refugees in Ghana;

• Administer and manage the Refugee Fund established under this Law;

• Advise the Minister (of the Interior) on all matters relating to refugees;

• Perform all functions conferred upon it under this Law and perform any other function that may be assigned to it by the Government.

CORE ACTIVITIES OF GRB

The Ghana Refugee Board is tasked with coordinating all activities relating to the management and care of refugees and asylum seekers in Ghana. It is the sole agency mandated to grant refugee status to persons seeking asylum in the country. It advises Government on refugee management policy and ensures that Government policy and directives are adhered to in the management of the refugee program.

The GRB generally manages the refugee program in Ghana. In order to ensure that Government is abreast with all activities and issues in the refugee program, the GRB signs an annual tripartite project sub-agreement with UNHCR and implementing partners. The core activities of the GRB include the following:


• Refugee Policy: All major policy decisions related to refugees are taken by the Board and Government is advised accordingly. GRB also ensures that Government decisions and directives are implemented as stipulated.

• Refugee Status Determination: GRB registers, interviews and recognizes or rejects applications for refugee status by asylum seekers. This activity takes place all year round. This involves staff of the Secretariat at one level and the Board at a later stage.

• Counseling: Counseling services are offered to refugees and asylum seekers who require them.

• Verification Exercises: The Board together with UNHCR organizes periodic verification exercises for all refugees and asylum seekers. This is basically the headcount of all refugees and asylum seekers in Ghana. The current population of asylum seekers and refugees in Ghana is estimated at 11,892.

• Camp Management: The Ghana Refugee Board manages all refugee camps in the country. The National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) has by convention, provided some staff for managing the various camps. Currently, Ghana has two (2) major refugee camps in the Western region and a reception center in the Upper East region for the recent Burkinabe asylum seekers. Several refugees and asylum seekers also live in the urban communities in various parts of the country.

• Documentation: The Board issues Refugee Certificates and identity cards to refugees and attestation documents for asylum seekers. The Board is responsible for issuing the UN Convention Travel Documents for recognized refugees who require them for travel. This is in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. The Board also assists recognized refugees who require work permits from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). It also facilitates the provision of services by state and other agencies to refugees and asylum seekers.

• Local Integration: The Board works closely with the Ghana Immigration Service to implement the legal aspect of Local Integration option of durable solutions for refugees. This entails issuance of residence and work permits.

• Naturalization: GRB is responsible for assisting refugees who qualify and apply to naturalize as Ghanaians.

• Advocacy: The Ghana Refugee Board per its mandate carries out sustained advocacy programs with stakeholders on the existence and protection of refugees in Ghana. These advocacy programs have and still continue to produce results such as waivers for refugee students to pay fees just like their Ghanaian counterparts as they are often required to pay fees as foreign students in secondary and tertiary educational institutions. It has also led to improved access to healthcare to refugees as well as opening of bank accounts among other services.

• Oversight Role: GRB oversees all activities implemented by UNHCR and the implementing partners. These activities and services include the following: 1. Security services provided by the police with GRB liaising.

2. Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH).

3. Shelter provision.

4. Education.

5. Food distribution.

6. Livelihood activities including skills training.